Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Many of us might be contemplating about the difficult days that are about to come. Wars keep on raging around the world and powerful discriminatory systems are on the rise. Presidents and political leaders speak of preparations for new wars on different religions, sects, ethnicities, races and nationalities. 

Spiritual teachings illustrate that our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and that our present actions will affect us in the future. It is easy to waste time on blaming one person or another for what happens around us, instead of focusing on our present actions that might shape our future differently. Let’s all work together as one global community to resist nonviolently against all oppressive systems around the world and pray for each other on our long journey towards peace and justice. 

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.

(Proverbs 22: 7-8)

For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.

(James 3: 16-18)

Poster No more war

Artist: Beatriz Aurora. No to War. Another world is possible. A world where all worlds fit.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 4 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 4 January 2017

In tradition of the Muiscas, the indigenous people who lived in what is now Bogota, Colombia, one of the most important rituals was carried out by the wise of the community. The wise person sat on a small bench in order to reconnect with the earth and thus reflect on one's own and their community's past, present and future. 

In our daily lives - even though it seems incredible - there are few moments in which we can sit still and reflect.

Today, we would like to invite you to halt your activities for a moment and reflect on:

- things that we could have done better in the past year,

- privileges that we have and ways to walk in solidarity with those who do not share the same,

- activities we can do to support peace initiatives around the world,

- and how to be agents of transformation of violence and oppression in our own communities.

Let's pray that this year of 2017 will grow new hopes for a better world.

Anthropomorphic figure from

Picture from Museo del Oro, Banco de la República.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016


Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016

2016 has been a difficult year. Stories about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean sea, the peace process in Colombia, killings of social leaders and farmers, protests to defend water resources, political surprises that seek to eliminate rights of millions of people, intensifying abuses in Hebron, new disappearances in the borderlands between Mexico and the USA, ongoing wars around the world, increasing islamophobia, escalating abuse of migrants, violence against women and natural disasters that have left thousands of people homeless… The list seems endless.

However, even in all this darkness, we can always find a ray of light. It reminds us that we must not lose faith. The light, which the oppression tries hard to extinguish, lives and grows with the commitment and dedication of us all.

In this last week of 2016, let us pray for an amplification of the light in the coming year. The light that lives and shines both inside each one of us and in the world around us. Let's pray for this light to grow stronger and multiply.

Let us pray for CPT members in Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtle Island, Greece, our partners and all the people struggling for peace around the world. Let's pray together for those who work to transform all forms of violence and oppression.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Baby watching TV

Photo credit: Caldwell Manners (El Garzal, Sur de Bolivar)

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God


CPTnet
18 December 2016
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God.

by Jhon Henry

There is nothing more liberating than saying I love God, because by God’s love I am able to understand the struggles of my sisters and brothers, through God’s love it is possible to understand that my commitment as a Christian is to transform the world into a more just place where all can have a place in which to live, a just world for me, for you, for us, for all.

Man from Las Pavas collects firewood

A man from Las Pavas collects firewood for community members who take nightly shifts to guard their crops from attacks by palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro’s private security. (Caldwell Manners/CPT)


Prayers for Peacemakers, November 16, 2016

 

Give thanks that campesino land struggle leaders of El Guayabo and Bella Union are now free pending trial.  Eric Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Freddy have been in hiding because of false charges leveled against them by a large landowner Rodrigo Lopez Henao. Pray for Alvaro Garcia, who remains in jail, and his family.  Pray that the Holy one will soften Lopez Henao’s heart and bend it toward justice.  Pray also that the new peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC will be signed in early December, so that rural communities like El Guayabo and Bella Union, which have born the brunt of the Colombian civil war's violence, may at last find some sort of peace with justice.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  November 20, 2016
Erik Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Fredy Ortega embrace their family in celebration outside the court in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.
Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.
Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.
I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1-4
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings. Psalm 17:1-2, 8-9

COLOMBIA: Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement

Last September, two graying fighters in the hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict consented to an awkward handshake. Ernesto Londoño wrote in the New York Times that he watched Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleón Jiménez, alias “Timochenko,” head negotiator for the FARC, shake hands “in stunned silence,” astonished at the diplomatic successes of Colombia’s four years of peace talks. On the evening of October 2nd, international observers reacted once again in stunned silence—this time, however, because the prospects for peace were thwarted by an entirely unexpected outcome. The “Yes” vote lost by less than 1% in a surprise to most observers, who predicted that the referendum would pass. Subsequent analyses have cast the vote as Colombia’s Brexit, an electoral coup carried out by a disaffected anti-establishment voting bloc. 

The “No” campaign, however, was anything but anti-establishment. Though Colombians whose territories have suffered the most direct violence overwhelmingly voted to support the accords, the country’s white and mestizo Andean centers of power, where urban violence has been on the wane, carried the “No.” This seeming paradox, in addition to being a tragedy, illuminates the fact that Colombia’s conflict is no longer—  if it ever was— a conflict between the state and the guerrilla as much as it is a conflict between elites and the popular sector. Chief among those who stand to lose if the hard-won peace accords are discarded—and chief among those who fought hardest for them to happen in the first place—are women.

Women peace activists played key roles in the Havana negotiations, both in the talks’ preparatory years and in their execution. Networks of women’s and feminist organizations like Ruta Pacífica (Peaceful Path), the Organización Femenina Popular (Popular Women’s Organization), and other members of the Movimiento Social de Mujeres Contra la Guerra (Social Movement of Women Against War) had been demanding a negotiated solution for two decades, softening the ground for the Havana talks. Once they were announced, women lost no time in advocating for civil society to have a place at the table, and organized several parallel events to amplify women’s voices. When civil society was initially excluded, women organized parallel summits and roundtables, gathering proposals to be delivered to Havana. They held “cortes de mujeres,” public hearings designed as spaces for crimes committed against women in wartime to be made visible. And they traveled the country and collected women’s testimonies of violence to be published in Colombia’s Truth and Memory Commission report, a key tool in any campaign for a peace with justice.

COLOMBIA: El Guayabo and Bella Union leaders free after turning themselves in

CPTnet
1 November 2016
COLOMBIA El Guayabo and Bella Unión Leaders Free After Turning themselves in

BY CALDWELL MANNERS

Erik Payares, Santos Peña and Jhon Fredy Ortega embrace their family in celebration outside the court in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

After six months of avoiding arrest under false charges, three land struggle leaders from the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Unión have returned home.

On 25 October, Erik Payares, Jhon Fredy Ortega and Santos Peña turned themselves into the Barrancabermeja’s prosecutor's office to defend their innocence against charges of possession of weapons, personal injury and conspiracy to commit crime.  The judge dropped all but the last charge.  He also ruled against the need to imprison them since they were not a risk to the community and had demonstrated their intentions to fully cooperate with the remaining investigation.

Earlier this year, on 24 April, authorities raided the homes of the three leaders, and the home of currently imprisoned Bella Unión community leader, Alvaro Garcia. Charges against the four leaders relate to alleged shots fired in December 2014 during a confrontation with Rodrigo Lopez Henao’s armed security guards. Henao claims the communities, working with the guerillas, forcibly displaced his father in the early 1980s and demands that the courts recognize him as a victim. Under this presumption, local authorities have failed to respond to the security needs of the villagers despite Henao’s continual attacks against the villagers’ property and persons. They have filed over twenty complaints against him.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: ‘It was a very sad day’--the narrow defeat of the peace referendum

Photo by Marian DeCouto

On Monday, September 26, 2016, I flew from Canada back to Colombia more excited than usual. After four years of negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia had finally reached a deal, which they would officially ratify that very day. 

As I began boarding the plane I saw a cameraman from the CBC news, and my heart fluttered with expectation. Upon landing in Bogotá, I could feel the energy buzzing through the exceptionally long line at customs. I quickly ran downtown to catch the festivities in the main square. Although the official signing was taking place in Cartagena, a historic walled city on the Caribbean coast where Colombia gained its independence, there were tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital to watch the live feed on big screens set up in the square.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that overcame me (and the goosebumps!) as I watched a parade of diverse Colombians celebrating this historic day. My friend Carolina turned to me to tell me that I will tell my kids and grandkids about this day. I cried tears of joy when the FARC commander asked for forgiveness from all of the victims and when the president of Colombia declared that the 52-year war was finally over. It was a day filled with hope, and an excitement to continue to work for a just peace on the horizon.

COLOMBIA: Colombians reject peace deal. Why and what next?

 

A woman looks for her identification number on a chart at a local voting station in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

Nine days have passed since the 2 October referendum when 6,431,376 Colombians voted to reject the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). The slim win of the “No” vote, by a margin of 54,000, leaves the country in a highly polarized state.

On September 26 with the whole world watching, President Juan Manuel Santos quoted the national anthem, “The horrible night has ceased,” after signing the 297-page peace agreement with the FARC. The signing set at the historic city of Cartagena with heads of state and dignitaries from fifteen countries present was a symbolic and powerful move to sway a divided country to vote in favor of the agreement. In 2013, Santos proposed a referendum in hopes to seal the agreement with a public show of confidence. He promised a simple “Sí” or  “No” question—“Do you support the final agreement to end the conflict and the construction of a stable and long-lasting peace?” The country would take on the responsibility to ratify the agreement. It didn’t work.

Prayers for Peacemakers 5 October 2016 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers 5 October 2016   Colombia 

Pray for those in living in Colombia's conflict zones: campesinos, indigenous peoples, displaced people and Afro-Colombians, most of whom voted overwhelmingly in favor for the peace referendum, which was defeated on Sunday.  Pray for Christian Peacemaker Teams-Colombia and their partners on the ground: human rights workers, peace activists, women’s rights activists, labor rights activists, etc.  They are heartbroken and their future is uncertain.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  October 2, 2016 
Christian Peacemaker Teams - Colombia
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
you brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs; Psalms 66:10-11
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary  readings